Cosmetic Dentistry

by Dr. Erin Elliott | 16 August, 2018

As a dentist we try not to “smile shame” people.  We never analyze, study and embarrass patients or friends alike.  But most people aren’t aware of the possibilities and solutions for a smile they’ve always wanted!  

Often times it is one or two teeth that are crooked or the shade of the teeth isn’t white enough but they’ve “tried that whitening stuff.”  So there are times I overstep my bounds because I just know I can help people get the smile they desire without necessarily needing a huge investment of money and time.  Let me explain:

Whitening: There are different routes to making your teeth a little brighter.  Unfortunately none of them lighten existing dental work such as fillings and crowns.  There are essentially two ways a tooth can whiten.  First, there is extrinsic stain we build up due to the habits we have.  Smoking, coffee, wine, foods, etc build up extrinsic stain.  In this case a cleaning from a dental hygienist or whitening toothpaste can remove it.  I advise against whitening toothpastes daily however because they are so abrasive.  Not only do they scrub away the stain but the tooth structure and gum tissue as well. This leads to wear on the teeth, sensitivity and the possibility of gum grafts.  Second, the natural color of our tooth is considered our intrinsic color.  This is how whitening gels, rinses, etc work to lighten teeth.  By cleaving the pigment bond these products literally change the color of the tooth from the inside out.  Over the counter whitening gels (Crest Whitestrips for example) do work, however the trays are not generally custom made and gum irritation can occur if the gel gets on the gums.  Also, over the counter products tend to be a low percentage so it is weaker.  The other option is to whiten with gel from a dental office.  Our version is a stronger percentage (a prescription strength per se) and is generally used in custom made trays so that the patient has control over where the gel goes (especially away from those gums!).  Finally there is an in office whitening available.  In our office we use a system called Zoom that uses a light to fast forward the whitening process.  This is a good solution for those people that lack discipline to do it at home consistently (come on… you know who you are) and if you have a big event coming up soon.  I know I’m the type that just needs to get it over with.  We set aside two hours in which we apply a gum shield and then 4-5 treatments.  The results are astounding!  As with anything there are some drawbacks to whitening.  As stated before, dental work does not whiten so there may be a chance you have to change some dental work out or try to get it to blend as best as possible.  Gum irritation can occur therefore it is important to monitor where the gel goes.  Just as with anything whitening doesn’t last forever mostly due to our eating and drinking habits.  You do need to maintain but that only requires a touch up at home every once in awhile.  The biggest reported drawback is sensitivity.  The good news is that whitening gel does not weaken enamel or make it more prone to decay.  It doesn’t cause harm.  The sensitivity does not last forever, it does go away, and it can be minimized by application of a desensitizer soon after.  So don’t hesitate to get those pearly whites shining a little brighter! 

Teeth Straightening

Good news!!! Crowded teeth, spaces and orthodontic relapse is not something you need to be stuck with!! Often times patients think that in order to straighten teeth they will be stuck with metal braces for two years.  In the past this was true.  If you missed your chance to have straight teeth as a kid or, like me, never wore your retainer it is easier (and cheaper) today to get your teeth straight in an efficient and cosmetic fashion.  Please do not turn to the internet companies as it is not overseen by a trained professional.  We offer two options for adult short term cosmetic focused teeth straightening.  The first is Invisalign.  By utilizing digital technology and 3D printing, custom trays are made in a series.  You wear each set of trays for a week at a time as the teeth slowly move.  You can eat and brush and floss like normal however the key to this system is actually wearing the trays 22 hours a day.  The next option is Six Month Smiles.  While this system does utilize brackets, I like the peace of mind that there is no choice but to wear them.  Just ask me how I know the difference between the two.  It’s because I’m the world’s biggest non-compliant patient.  I am currently in Six Month Smiles to correct crowded teeth after not wearing my retainer for years.  The cool part is is that no one even notices I’m wearing them!  The brackets are clear, the wire is white and very cosmetic.  The best part is that we can move the teeth fast and predictably.  This is also cheaper than Invisalign.  Both systems have pros and cons.  The best part is is that you can choose what suits you and your goals the best.  

  

Veneers

Porcelain veneers are a beautiful solution to cosmetic concerns.  I usually have a big discussion with patients and plan ahead.  Veneers are a good solution when the tooth size and structure are compromised.  One does need to remember that this is an irreversible procedure but the major advantages are the short treatment time (usually 3 weeks) and the long term stability.  Porcelain is a strong, translucent and tooth like material.  A veneer means that it fits just the front part of the tooth much like an acrylic nail.  Veneers are an investment but a worthy one but don’t use it as a “quick fix” solution if there are other concerns that need to be addressed.  

As you can see there is not one solution to every person’s problems but there are many options to get the smile you’ve always dreamed of but thought it might be out of reach.

Call for a free cosmetic consult today and we can help customize the best solution for your smile… and your pocketbook.  And I promise I won’t “smile shame” you when I meet you.